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Unemployment Claims Double in Two Days in California as Coronavirus Takes Economic Toll

Friday, March 20, 2020

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California is seeing a big spike in unemployment claims as the state and nation hurtle towards the first recession in 12 years.

“We are currently experiencing a large increase in claims filed in our programs and have staff working overtime to keep up with the demand,” said Loree Levy, spokesman for the state’s Economic Development Department.

“In addition, we are working to redirect other staff, and hire additional staff, as much as possible to assist with the claim filing process,” she said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday evening that the state typically receives about 2,000 claims daily. “Two, three days ago we saw about 40,000 ... then 70,000.” he said. “Yesterday, 80,000 applications. It doubled in a 48 hours period.”

He said the administration is asking state workers in other departments with the necessary skills to help process the influx.

“They are making themselves essential and rotating out of their job description to meet this moment,” he said.

On Thursday morning, the federal Department of Labor reported advance claims on unemployment insurance rose to 281,000 nationwide and 58,208 in California — gains of 70,000 and 14,823, respectively.

The total number of new claims in California represents a 34% increase over a week ago.

The state has not received details on how the federal government will help. The Senate Wednesday passed, and sent to President Donald Trump, a stimulus plan that includes money to help states with the sudden explosion in jobless claims nationwide, a bill that’s now being considered by the Senate.

In California, if anyone is missing work because they are sick or having to care for a covered family member who is sick or medically quarantined, the department is encouraging them to apply for Disability Insurance if sick or Paid Family Leave insurance if providing care.

The state Disability Insurance program covers both of these benefit programs, and most Californians pay for coverage through payroll deductions noted as “CASDI” on their paycheck stubs.

If someone is missing out on work for anything but these specific medically related reasons should they apply for unemployment insurance. Gov. Gavin Newsom has waived the one-week waiting period before someone can claim benefits.

Levy noted that these are all insurance programs, so someone had to contribute to them on a worker’s behalf for a worker to be able to collect benefits once found eligible. There are some situations where a self-employed individual may be found eligible including perhaps past jobs over the last 12 to 18 months. The EDD webpage has more information.

Unemployment insurance benefits in California range from $40 to $450 a week and are available for up to 26 weeks. The average weekly benefit the week of February 29, the latest data available, was $338.90.

Source: Sacramento Bee

Category: Economic News, Employment News

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